I was at a grocery store with a friend late at night when two large men started following us around. I was in my cheerleading uniform, and they started saying really gross things to me. My friend and I were extremely uncomfortable and felt unsafe walking to my car that late because these guys were literally stalking us in the store. I asked the manager on duty to walk us to my car to ensure we were safe, and we went on our merry way.
When I moved to New York, I also knew I was outside of my comfort zone. I’m not saying New York is a crazy-dangerous place, but I am a young woman living in an unfamiliar setting with millions and millions of strangers. To assume that I’m safe late at night by myself and not be aware of my surroundings would be stupid.
A new app called Kitestring just came out to help ensure safety. There are a bunch of safety apps out there that contact your emergency contacts if you’re in danger. However, Kitestring does it without you having to do anything. You tell it that you’re walking home alone and give an estimated time of how long it should take you. It texts you to see if you made it, and if you don’t respond it calls your emergency contacts. The idea behind this is great, but I feel a bit torn on relying on an app to be safe.
I hate this idea that women are held accountable if something bad happens to them. Like if you’re walking home and something happens to you, it’s your fault because you didn’t use an app? Because you weren’t wearing your anti-rape underwear? That isn’t fair and it’s a large reason why rape culture still exists. There is a massive difference between being vigilant or aware and being responsible. That said, knowing how to ensure your personal safety is important and here are some mistakes you might be making:
Not Locking Your Car Doors
I know a lot of cars have doors that automatically lock, but mine did not. It's a good idea to get into the habit of locking your doors or checking to see if they locked when you get in the car. You should also make sure they're actually locked when you get out of your car as well.
Not Telling Anyone Where You're Going
A lot of stories I hear involve people not telling anyone where they were going. This isn't just for women. Remember Aron Ralston, the hiker who got stuck in a canyon in Utah and had to cut off his arm? He didn't tell anyone he was going hiking so no one was looking for him. If you're going somewhere, tell a friend, sibling or parent. Just notify someone of where you're supposed to be so that if something happens and no one hears from you, they can search for you.
Walking And Talking
I'm guilty of this sometimes. I love to talk on the phone while I'm walking home, but I stopped after I was being followed down my street. You might think you're fully aware of what's around you even though you're on the phone, but you're really not paying attention. It's best to just focus on getting to where you need to go. Or if you are on the phone, make sure you're extra aware.
Divulging Too Much On Social Media
This one is kind of tough because if you're tweeting about where you are, it's easy to track. However, it can also work against you because someone can easily find your whereabouts. Be careful when it comes to divulging your location on social media.
Thinking You're Invincible
Hearing horrible stories can make us think that something so terrible can never happen to us. Well, it can. You are not invincible and thinking that you are immune to any bad thing is not good. I'm not saying you need to walk around scared, but it's important to know that things unfortunately can happen.
Not Trusting Your Gut
If you feel like something is wrong, it probably is. Have you ever been in a situation and felt uneasy because you knew something was off? That's your gut telling you to get outta there, so listen to it.
Not Being Aware Of Your Surroundings
One of the most important things you can do is always be aware of what's around you. Look around, notice people who are near you, make a mental note of what you see. If you're aware, you might notice that someone is following you or that something isn't right, and you'll be more prepared to handle the situation.
Not Walking Confidently
I don't care if you're the most self-conscious person in the world, walking confidently is a must. You don't need to sashay around, but having good posture and firm steps is really important. When you look like you're walking with a purpose and like you aren't scared, you're less likely to be bothered.
What do you think about the app? What other personal safety tips do you have? Tell us in the comments!